Today, more than ever before in human history, the wealth or poverty of nations depends on the quality of higher education (HE). Revolutionary breakthroughs in the knowledge economy are leading to remarkable changes in the way forward-looking nations capacitate their graduates. In this era of global skills and knowledge race, all universities cannot fail to realise, accept and accomplish its natural and ascribed roles as a strategic agent for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Universities must confront new realities rapidly manifesting themselves in a diversely complex and fast-changing world. Business as usual will not suffice. Universities need to be expansively re-focused in order to become more sensitive and responsive to its mission of developing graduates who, in addition to conventional graduate training, are also able to fight the intellectual battle for self-confidence and self-assertion as equal players in the global and intensely competitive knowledge economy.
Whilst there has been a tremendous growth in size, the expansion of HE in Sudan has caused average quality of education to decline as resources are stretched increasingly thin. Essentially, the expansion has been less differentiated and, therefore, ill-planned to confront emergent development needs. Rather, what is evident is a stupendous replication of traditional disciplinary-based techniques of knowledge production. These have, nevertheless, increased the richness of knowledge about the universe we live in but without apparently translating or transforming the catchment societal environments in terms of measurable productive capacities. There are also grave concerns that HE in most Arab and African countries is becoming increasingly obsolete which, in part, is why development programmes are stultified even from the outset. There are also serious issues regarding the under-performance in research – state of academic research is less-than-satisfactory in almost all universities in the Arab countries and Africa. Therefore, Sudan HE institutions must confront the ‘new realities’ evident in the environments in which they operate. Many scholars and policy makers have called for a transformative innovation agenda which embraces radical change for new synthesis and approaches for transforming HE in Sudan.
Youth in the Sudan are growing fast and universities and research institutes in Sudan are expected to make a leading contribution by producing graduates ready to grasp the various opportunities generated in the digital economy. It is therefore important that all HE institutions and societies to consider the youth in all their curriculum design, programs development as well as fulfilling their role as major agents in the realisation of the various future strategic visions in most parts of Sudan. According to recent reports by the World Bank, with a large youth representation and youth unemployment ratio, the Arab region faces a potential crisis and the education sector should be reformed to include specific qualifications and specialisations in the digital economy. The private sector can play a larger role in helping governments and academia focus investments on high-priority and high demand skills, thus young students are ready for employment the moment they graduate.